ISAF Releases Review of Pakistan Border Shooting
By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 6, 2010 An assessment released today of last week’s Pakistan border shooting in which two of the country’s forces were killed and four were wounded concluded that coalition helicopters likely fired on the troops after mistaking their warning fire for hostile fire.
“We believe the Pakistani border guard was simply firing warning shots after hearing the nearby engagement and hearing the helicopters flying nearby,” Air Force Brig. Gen. Tim Zadalis, International Security Assistance Force Joint Command director of air plans and the assessment team leader, said in a release today. “This tragic event could have been avoided with better coalition force coordination with the Pakistan military.”
Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, ISAF commander, issued his condolences along with the report.
“ISAF offers its deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of those killed and wounded, to the Pakistan military, and the people of Pakistan,” Petraeus said. “We deeply regret this tragic loss of life and will continue to work with the Pakistan military and government to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”
The joint ISAF and Pakistan military report said two coalition helicopters passed into Pakistani airspace several times Sept. 30. The helicopters later fired on a building identified as a Pakistani border outpost, in response to shots fired from the post. The assessment team considered it most likely that the Pakistani troops had fired in an attempt to warn the helicopters of their presence, according to the release. Following the engagement, it was discovered that the dead and wounded were members of the Pakistan Frontier Scouts.
Following the incident, Pakistan shut down the NATO supply route running through the northwestern Pakistan tribal region of Kurram, citing security reasons.
Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell yesterday called the shooting a “regrettable incident,” and said Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates “deeply regrets the incident.” But, he said, the relationship between the U.S. military and the Pakistani military remains strong and has not been derailed by the incident.
“Throughout this period of tension, if you will … [military-to-military] relations have proceeded,” Morrell said. “There was no disengagement. There were no reprisals in that sense. We have continued to work closely with the Pakistani military throughout the aftermath of this incident.”
Two representatives of the Pakistani military were assigned to the investigation team.